Want to ask a question? Click here

Why are panhandlers allowed to walk the medians at College Road and Oleander Drive?

Julian March
This panhandler seen at the intersection of U.S. 17 and Porters Neck Road. Gatehouse Media photo

A panhandler works the intersection of U.S. 17 and Porters Neck Road. Jacksonville Daily News file photo

Q. Why are panhandlers allowed to walk up and down the medians and annoy drivers at College Road and Oleander Drive? I thought panhandling was outlawed in the city of Wilmington a few years back.

A. They aren’t.

“That’s against city code,” said Linda Rawley, a spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department. When notified, police officers ask the pandhandlers to leave, Rawley said.

“What happens a lot of times – they’ll come right back,” she said.

If anyone observes someone violating the ordinance, they can call the non-emergency number for New Hanover County dispatch — (910) 452-6120 —so a police officer can respond.

The city has an ordinance governing panhandling or begging, which is defined as requesting “an immediate donation of money or other thing of value from another person, regardless of the solicitor’s purpose or intended use of the money or other thing of value. The solicitation, begging or asking may be, without limitation, by the spoken, written, or printed word, or by other means of communication.”

The ordinance says it is unlawful for anyone to panhandle:

(1) In an aggressive or intimidating manner in a public area; (The ordinance defines “aggressive manner” as including making physical contact, following a person, soliciting within five feet of anyone who has said no, blocking safe passage of a person or driver of a car, or using obscene or abusive language or gestures.)

(2) In any public transportation vehicle owned or operated by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, or at any station or stop for such vehicle;

(3) Within 15 feet of any entrance or exit of any bank or financial institution, or within 15 feet of any automated teller machine without the consent of the owner or other person legally in possession of such facilities. Provided, however, that when an automated teller machine is located within an automated teller machine facility, such distance shall be measured from the entrance or exit of the automated teller machine facility;

(4) While the person being solicited is standing in line waiting to be admitted to a commercial establishment;

(5) On private property if the owner, tenant, or lawful occupant has asked the person not to solicit on the property, or has posted a sign clearly indicating that solicitations are not welcome on the property; or

(6) From any operator or passengers of a motor vehicle that is on a public street; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to services rendered in connection with emergency repairs requested by the operator or passengers of such vehicle.

(7) At any sidewalk cafe permitted pursuant to section 4-109 of the City Code, provided such areas are in active use at the time;

(8) While under the influence of alcohol or after having illegally used any controlled substance as defined in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act;

(9) After sunset or before sunrise, unless solicitation is allowed in accordance with section 7-38 of the City Code;

(10) In the median of any street except for the median of Market Street between the western line of Front Street and the eastern line of Water Street;

(11) In or on the Riverwalk as defined in section 7-38 of the City Code;

(12) In the area of any street corner included in a triangle created by connecting the point formed by the intersection of curb lines and points equal to the width of the sidewalk from said intersection measured along each curb line; or

(13) In any public area on the following streets:

a. Water Street between the northern line of Dock Street and the southern line of Princess Street;

b. Front Street between the northern line of Dock Street and the southern line of Princess Street;

c. Market Street between the western line of Second Street and the western line of Water Street.

Anyone who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Offenders are also subject to a $25 civil penalty.


Does New Hanover County have an ordinance on panhandling?

What are the black-and-yellow parking meters in downtown Wilmington?

Why is it illegal to feed the homeless in Wilmington?

What’s the status of Wilmington’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness?


User-contributed question by:

Got a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Click here to let us know!

Bookmark and Share

4 Responses to “ Why are panhandlers allowed to walk the medians at College Road and Oleander Drive?”

  1. On January 14, 2015 at 6:10 pm Lauren wrote:

    As a manager at a business at the intersection of Market St and New Centre Drive, I can attest to the fact that law enforcement does minimal work, if any, to reduce and eliminate panhandling. I have made several calls to the non emergency dispatch in the past year, most of which are ignored, and when responded to, the officer talks to the individual and they go right back to panhandling when the officer leaves. This article is informative, but the enforcement behind the city codes and law are non-existent. I wish I could shed more light into this issue, as it is prominent in the Wilmington area, and most of the people I am familiar with that panhandle are somewhat dangerous and have criminal backgrounds.

  2. On January 14, 2015 at 11:07 pm Donald Johnson wrote:

    Sounds like the local fireman’s fill the boot campaign

  3. On January 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    I don’t think that’s it. The firefighters are in uniform when they’re out collecting.

  4. On January 29, 2015 at 10:46 pm Tom Roberts wrote:

    I’ve called the New Hanover County dispatch number three times to report a panhandler, and no one answers. What is the point in having ordinances if they are not enforced, or having a phone number to call if no one is available to answer- this makes no sense. Pass a law, enforce the law. C’mon, WPD – you are better than this.

Ask a question

Ask a question

If you’re looking for answers about living in coastal North Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. If we don’t have the answer to your question, we’ll find out or try to find someone who does. Hey, that’s our job! So, ask your question below and we’ll do our best to find the answer. Once we do, we’ll post it in an appropriate category.

Can we use your name to credit you by name (no e-mail or other contact information) with this question when we post an answer?
Your question:

Post a comment

Talk to us!

Have a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Use this form to let us know. Note that all comments are moderated and must be approved before they are posted, although you may see your own comments the first time you post them.

Your comment: